Truth and Its Political Forms: An Explorative Cartography

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For some years now, the significance of truth for politics has been intensely debated under the buzzword “post-truth.” However, this cannot hide the fact that political theory and philosophy have systematically neglected the relationship between truth and politics throughout their history. This article intends to remedy this desideratum by differentiating the various modes in which truth is referred to and invoked in the political field. To this end, the main strands of the post-truth debate are reconstructed and their shortcomings are pointed out. Second, based on a contrasting reading of Habermas and Foucault, possible starting points for systematizing the relationship between truth and politics are discussed. Third, and as a prolegomenon to such a systematization, the article proposes a cartography of political truth forms and relations along five fault lines: truth as foundation and de-foundation, truth as coercion and freedom, truth as virtue and scandal, truth as secret and transparency, and truth as knowledge and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalContemporary Political Theory
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Dec 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 506013 Political theory
  • 603116 Political philosophy


  • Foucault
  • Habermas
  • Politics
  • Post-factual
  • Post-truth
  • Truth


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